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Singapore, Java and Bali - 2002

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pfeil  AlamAnda, Bali
pfeil  Java/Bali 2002

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last updated: 13-Feb-2006

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Borobudur Morning Panorama

When: 17Feb-03Mar 2002
Where - click on these direct links to get to the entries for:
Singapore (Gallery Hotel)
Yogyakarta (Java, Hotel Sheraton Mustika Yogyakarta)
Borobudur (Hotel Manohara)
Bali (Alam Anda at the North Coast, and Nyumpene in Legian)

All transfers were by airplane, except for the car transfers to AlamAnda.


Singapore was a 3-day stop-over to meet our friends Martin and Claudia, and to get a feeling of this city. We stayed in the Gallery Hotel, a then brand new design hotel located near a small river. The most special features were the windowsills painted in brigth blue/red/yellow, and the outdoor pool on the 7th floor, whose walls were made of glass - so I could see JJ swimming in the pool from the street! Our room was coolly designed in dark wood and white linnen, with the occasional splotch of colour and superfluffy bathrobes. I'd go again there, was nice.

Highlights in Singapore include our time with Claudia and Martin, our (window)shopping trips, the dinner in the Victorian-style Lau Pa Sat Food Center (where I  took a flight in a toy helicopter whose interior was exactly my size, see picture in the gallery) and the walk through Chinatown.
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Java - Yogyakarta

My most intense memory of Yogyakarta is an audio one: "Allah uh akhbar" sung over all minaret loudspeakers, by all citizens from the small boy to the old grandmother, from dusk till dawn - our stay there coincided with Eid ul-Adha, the muslim Feast of Sacrifice.

In Yogya, we stayed for 2 or 3 nights in the stuffy Sheraton Mustika, a bit outside of town - I didn't have much time to book. Service was attentive, though. During our stay there, we undertook several visits to the city, but also to the Hindu temples of Prambanan, some 16 km to the Northeast.

Highlights I remember from our visits to the city include the narrow streets with chicken all over, the Kraton (sultan's palace) with its representative pavillons, old coaches and Gamelan instruments where we saw kind of a small procession, but above all: our rikshaw driver, who led us to the usual Batik factory, but then showed us around in the ruins of the Taman Sari water castle behind Kraton when a tropical downpour started. The ruins (who had once been devised to be floodable to avert enemies) were flooded ankle-high within minutes. The rikshaw driver led us to a small house not far from the ruins - and funnily enough, this was a traditional local sarong shop his wife owned :-) No brightly coloured batik hippie sarongs, only decent ware. Anyway, we spent a fabulous time with the couple, and enjoyed some tea. I liked a dark brown sarong best, though the lady told me that this was a design for elderly women... With this sarong we left soon after when the rains paused - but the water stood still above our ankles... Check out the picture of me trying on a sarong, in the gallery...

Prambanan temples

Prambanan Temple panorama

We made a day trip to these 10th century hindu temples who were destroyed in the 16th century by an earthquake, but rebuilt since the 1930s. The main temple is for Shiva, two smaller ones are for Brahma and Vishnu. They consist of pagoda-like buildings with stairs to the holy chambers - and everything is adorned with reliefs of great quality.

There were not many tourists, so we took several hours to explore the reliefs. Later we also visited two smaller temples in the surroundings.
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Java - Borobudur

We had fallen in love with ancient South-East Asian art and reliefs on our trip to Angkor Wat, Cambodia in 2000, so we decided to visit this other world famous monument, of Buddhist culture - one of the world wonders...

Borobudur Full view

The pyramidical temple was built around 800 A.D., but was covered with ash from the Merapi volcano soon after. Excavations started only in 1814, and the UNESCO renovated it in the 1970s. Borobudur consists of 3 main tiers representing the levels of enlightenment, with ca. 1300 reliefs - or 5 km - adorning the walls with scenes of Buddha's life in the finest quality. Most famous, however, are the 72 stupas on the top platform, each containing a buddha statue gazing into space.

We stayed in the Manuhara Hotel onsite in the Borobudur park, because it allows you to visit the temple before sunrise (and it has a model of the temple in its restaurant). The hotel was okay, but not special (but I also felt a bit sick, got a cold).

So early in the morning, we rose to ascend to the peak of the temple - we didn't take the 5 km long way, but the direct stairs. The view from top was one of the most magical moments in my life. Some of the buddha statues sit no longer protected in their stupa, so together with them, we watched the sun rise and cast bright rays of light over Mt. Merapi to the East and the mist-covered plains below...

We spent quite some time on top, also together with a bunch of local schoolgirls who wanted to learn everything about Switzerland from me - if they didn't giggle about my short haircut (they wore veils - but maybe to hide their short haircuts?)

The descend took a bit longer, because we indended to see at least some of the reliefs. Check out some more pictures in the gallery...

From Borobudur we returned to the Yogya Airport and flew on to Denpasar on Bali.
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Bali - Alam Anda, the Center and the South

Bali rice terrasses

We again stayed in AlamAnda, in the Kura Kura villa - please refer to my separate page about this romantic hideaway in Northern Bali.

This time, we took some more time to explore the South on 2 daytrips in a rented car. The highlights include Ubud and the surrounding villages (the small Hanuman stone statue I bought there is now feeling cold on our terrace in Switzerland), the temples Pura Taman Ayun and Pura Tanah Lot, but also the monkey forest in Ubud. An adventure started when we not only got lost between Tanah Lot and Legian, but then also had a car incident since the road was narrower than we thought... With the help of an endless number of kind locals (having much fun), including the village policeman, we were able to call the rental agency, so this turned out a minor problem...

From Bali, I returned home via Singapore, but JJ went onwards to Borneo (Kuta Kinabalu, Miri, Sipadan). Hope to be back to Bali and Java some other time!

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